Peter set a goal to happily retire when he had $10M saved. He received a buyout offer for his company of $125M. Happy retirement, right?
Well, yes, but a friend was offered $330M for his company, so Peter held out for more money. One short year later with no buyout offers, he experienced a complete devaluation of his company and went bankrupt.
Peter had renegotiated his ‘when’. Now he had no money and his new ‘when’ became ‘when I get out of debt’ instead of enjoying retirement with $125M.
After reading Peter’s story, I developed the ‘When and Now’ exercise to help my clients become clear that their happiness, success, financial stability, etc. shouldn’t rely on their ‘when’. ‘When’ is aspirational. Aspirations are great until your happiness, success, contentment, etc. become dependent upon them.
Why? ‘When’ can be a moving target. A person will be happy when they lose 10 pounds. They lose 10 pounds and aren’t happy. 10 pounds becomes 20 pounds. They’ll be happy when they get the new job they wanted. They get it and still aren’t satisfied so happiness becomes getting a job at a new company. They’ll be successful when they get the BMW. They get it and don’t feel successful; success now becomes getting a corner office.
You get the picture. This is often referred to as the ‘Hedonic Treadmill’. The more you get, the more you want and you are never satisfied, you are unhappy and discontent.
This is not a way I want to live, but if I’m honest, it is the way I lived in the past! I had to understand the reasons I am happy now, the reasons I am successful now and stop waiting until ‘when’. I am so much happier and more content now then when I was on the Hedonic Treadmill!
My ‘When and Now’ exercise can help you to break through that discontent.
Do you want to try this out? This is for your eyes only unless you want to share it with me.
Fill in the blanks, ‘I’ll be _______ when ________’. Clients have filled the first blank with happy, successful, content, safe, financially stable, a great parent, etc. The second blank is tied to achievement, e.g. I’ll be happy when I lose 10 pounds.
Now read your statement. How are you feeling about it? What would you change?